What’s the Best Place to Match to Your Foundation?

Published in: Makeup Tips/How To


Written by Sam

Freelance makeup artist and blogger Sam has a tip to help you find your foundation match in today’s guest post.

Ah, the age-old question: “Do I match my foundation to my neck, my jawline, my inner wrist, my…” Ok, stop right there.


There are many reasons why all of the above are less than ideal, so let’s go through some of them before we explore an even better way to match.

If you match to your…

Neck — Because of the shadow your face casts down upon your neck, it only makes sense that your neck is going to be one of the palest parts of your skin. It receives the least amount of sun, and contains much lower levels of pigment than many other parts of your skin. Match your foundation to your neck, and you run the risk of a washed-out, sickly looking face.

Jawline — Depending on your bone structure, your jawline may appear, which can cause unintentional highlights or shadows that are lighter or darker than the rest of your face. Although the difference may not be major, you might not be getting a true gauge of your actual skintone. If your face is ruddy or sallow and doesn’t have the same undertones as the rest of your body, you’re also looking at choosing the incorrect shade. For example, my face has a lot of red in it, but the rest of my skin doesn’t. I actually have yellow undertones, but if I matched to my jawline, I’d be apt to pick a foundation with pink or beige undertones.


Inner wrist — This one, I simply don’t get. Your inner wrist contains a lot of large veins (arteries? I was never good at biology…), and again, gets very little direct sun exposure. And since when is the inner wrist at all comparable to a face? This can lead you astray in the worst of ways; while the rest of my skin has yellowish undertones, if I were to match to my inner wrist, I’d definitely choose a foundation with more pinky undertones, which could lead me to look unnatural, ruddy, and older.

So, what’s the best place to match to your foundation?

Simple. Your chest. Think about it. You want your face to look relatively in tone with the rest of your skin. As long as you don’t live in the 18th century and have to endure having lace tickle your chin every waking moment, I’m assuming that you wear shirts that expose part of your décolletage from time to time. By matching your foundation to your chest, you are matching it to a part of your skin that receives relatively the same amount of sun as your face, has a much more even tone than many other parts of the body, and should age rather similarly to your face.

Look up any red carpet photo from the past where you might have thought, “Gosh, she looks off,” but you couldn’t figure out why. Check out her face in relation to her chest. It will usually be darker, which probably means that she or her makeup artist matched her foundation to her neck, or jawline, or, dare I say, her inner wrist.

For the one guy who might be reading this: match to your arms (the “outer” part). It is the second closest to your most natural looking face color after the chest (which, I’m assuming, you don’t bare as readily as most women).

Even if you think you have a good thing going matching to wherever you do now, humour me. Give your chest a try. I bet you’ll thank me if you do.


Written by Sam

Sam is a 17-year-old, oddly tall guy whose love of all things skincare, makeup, and fashion started when he entered the modeling world at 14. Since then, he’s established himself as a freelance makeup artist in the theatre and fashion worlds, and started his own blog to preach the wonders of orange eyeshadow, Asian skincare, and designer fragrances to the masses.


Like this post? Tell your friends!

So far, 68 people have commented on this article. How cool is that?

  1. Faith says:

    I’ve realized that when I wear v-necks that my face doesn’t match, but that’s because my chest is paaaaaaaaaaaaaaale. It’s even lighter than my neck, which is already too light for most foundations.

    • GG says:

      In this case, you can match your FACE to your CHEST by bronzing your chest to match. But in most cases, we can use the chest as a guide.

  2. Tania says:

    So ironic this has popped up while I’m watching “What Not To Wear” and her foundation is WAY darker than her neck, chest, etc. Uggh I can’t wait till she sees Carmindy!!!!

  3. my chest is like 3 shades darker than my neck so not sure if that would work for me.
    beautylogicblog recently posted … Clarisonic Look Good Feel Better &amp New Hope Mia Giveaway

  4. SaraJane says:

    Wow, this is great advice and timely, too! I usually really hate wearing makeup on my face but as I’m getting older I’m noticing that I need it a bit more to even out my skin tone. I was just thinking I should go out this weekend and try out a few different foundations. Thank you for saving me from bad coloring. 🙂

    Also, Sam, I’m really enjoying your guest posts on here.

  5. Kristeta says:

    That’s what one of my fave YouTube gurus said too…..and still I have not done that lol.

  6. Vanessa says:

    Ohhhh, that makes so much sense! I never thought of that. Awesome post 🙂
    Vanessa recently posted … Cranberry and Brown Sugar

  7. seton says:

    I think that is terrible advice. There are lots of people who dont expose their chest at all, all year round. My chest is about 3-4 shades lighter than than my face. I would much rather match my foundation to my neck.

    • Hannah says:

      I agree completely! for 3/4 of the year my chest is way paler than the rest of my body because it never sees any sunlight. Then, during the summer when I wear bathing suits, my upper chest area is the darkest part of my body because no matter now much sunscreen I put on this NW15 skin that area picks up color. This is honestly horrible advice for women.

      • EMR says:

        for me, this advice is actually really great… there’s no reason to be ruse about it :s

      • Jessica says:

        I agree everyone’s chest tone may be much different then the skintone of your face. For me the neck is the best option since you should blend your foundation into your neck anyways, so you don’t have a line on your jawline.

    • Mallory says:

      Understand where you are coming from, but he didn’t know you never expose your chest to sun. No need to be rude, and keep doing what works for you 🙂 That is what make up is all about.

  8. Ronda says:

    Could you,in the future, do a post on how to choose a foundation to correct skin that looks too ruddy?
    When I look in the mirror sometimes I see too much pink-ish hue. And if I were to match my foundation to my chest, I’d be worse off I think. My chest is freckled and blotchy from too much sunburn when I was a small kid. 🙁 (thanks, mom…)

  9. Tally says:

    Thanks Sam! This is a great idea! My neck is super light but my chest may just work! I’ll be sure to try soon :)!

  10. Anina says:

    Thank you, Sam! Though there seem to be a number of people who don’t agree with you, I think the entry provides us one more thing to help us out do something particularly tricky.

    Perhaps consider looking at both the jawline and the chest? And see which color allows for a match or near match for both? Because it is definitely easier to say where you shouldn’t match—the inner wrist and the neck.
    Anina recently posted … My Bon bons from La Petite Confiserie

  11. Ariel says:

    I love your posts, Sam!!

  12. Lowelli says:

    Great post, Sam! I’ve actually heard this advice from other makeup artists and have found it to work really well for me. My face is a few shades paler than the rest of me so I try to match my face to my chest to make me look even. If I match to my neck or jawline I look like I’m wearing a white mask – not a good look.

  13. Coral says:

    That is slightly odd when first reading it but amazing when I actually think about it. I’m super loving all the tips and reviews.

  14. Rica says:

    I always find makeup artist matching my foundation on my jawline, but a lot of time it’s off. I think I’ll start matching foundation to my chest now, even though it could be slightly paler, I think it might still work =D. Thanks Sam! I’m loving your posts!

    Rica recently posted … Another Awesome Giveaway by Productrater

  15. Stephanie says:

    “As long as you don’t live in the 18th century and have to endure having lace tickle your chin every waking moment”….

    Because being modest means you live in the 18th century?

    • Rachel says:

      there’s a difference between modesty and a lace collar that covers your entire neck 🙂

      thanks for the post sam! i’ve actually been doing this because my face and chest are a very close match. glad to see i’m not the only one! 😀

  16. ki says:

    I’ll definitely give this a try 🙂 thanks sam!

  17. ElaineA says:

    hmmm…never heard of this one but I guess it doesn’t hurt to give it a try!
    ElaineA recently posted … 12 in 1 Eye Palette

  18. Gina says:

    I’ve found that matching on my jawline works very well for me, but I’m so glad you’re advising women to avoid their wrists and neck! It was always common sense to me to avoid those areas, because I have a medium-light skin tone, so those areas are visibly darker on me. I can see the neck not being so bad for fairer women, but wrist? There’s just too many colors there!

  19. Kelsey says:

    But my neck is actually darker than my face…

    • Sam says:

      And for some people, this may be the case. But try it. There’s also nothing worse than choosing a *too* pale foundation and looking sickly. It may not work for you, but it just might. Just make sure to choose a foundation from a store with a good return policy 😉

  20. Britany B. says:

    *hugs my fav. blogger Sam* :-D!!

  21. Nika says:

    I’d like to give this a try but I’m afraid of looking funny testing out shades on my chest in public. 😛

  22. Janet says:

    Thanks for the tip! I’ll definitely try it out 🙂

  23. Fabienne says:

    I [very politely] beg to differ. I keep to matching foundation to the darkest part of the body. My chest seldom sees exposure (super light!). I, then, match to my neck, the darkest part of my profile. My face is paler than my neck, even though I wear SPF30 from my hairline down to my neckline. So, instead, I tend to use a lighter, face-matching foundation for the center of my face (forehead, nosebridge, undereye, cheekbones, top of chin), and then a neckline-matching foundation for my neck, and the periphery (temples, below cheekbones, jaw, sides of chin, hairline, sides of nose) of my face.

  24. Sam says:

    Honestly, ladies, do what works for you. If you have a good thing going, PLEASE stick to it. This is just how I tend to match foundation for other people, but of course there will be exceptions. Some of my clients/friends have chests *much* paler than anywhere else on their bodies because they rarely wear open-neck shirts, so of course this method won’t work for them. And there are some who just have very dark chests, so a gradation shade is needed for their face to act as a balancing method for their neck and chest. I find that this method works on about 80% of the people I work with, and is the method I tend to stick to, but like everything, I adapt if it doesn’t work.

    With all of the tips and tricks I post, read em, try em; if they don’t work for you, by all means, leave em. I thank you so much for actually reading my posts, and even for maligning them, as it allows me to learn and grow as a makeup artist as well.

    Thanks guys!!! 🙂

  25. Karen says:

    Thanks, Sam. 🙂 I’m definitely gonna give this a try. I’ve been matching against the skin under my chin on my throat, but the chest does make a lot of sense in my case.

    Ya know…I can still remember using the back of my hand back in the day, which probably was not the best idea since I spent a lot of time outside, and my hands were always really tanned.

    Live and learn, I guess.

    • Sam says:

      When I first started, and had absolutely no idea what I was doing, the first saleswoman I asked told me to match it to the back of my hand. And my face turned out bright pink and ruddy! I was mortified, to say the least.

      Lemme know how matching to your chest works out for you, Karen! I match to my chest normally (as I wear a lot of V-necks and button-downs), and it’s perfect for my pale, yellow-toned skin.

  26. Ana says:

    My neck is actually a lot darker than my face… weird! Maybe because I always have foundation on (usually mineral or liquid with SPF) so my face is more protected from the sun? I have dark hair and eyes but fair skin… I think my dark features are why I am always matched to a color that is way to dark by the saleswomen and have to go back and get a lighter shade… happened recently with a new mineral foundation. I wish there were more neutral fair shades … seems most brands’ fairest shades are pink or too yellow.

    • Sam says:

      Have you tried Revlon Colorstay in 110-Ivory? I find it to be nearly neutral, and matches many people with pale, pale skin regardless of their actual undertone. 🙂

  27. Michelle C. says:

    Thaaaaank you. I find it so strange that a lot of ladies match to their neck, when is anyone’s neck the same color as the rest of their body?

    This post was really well written, as was the last one you wrote, hope to see more from you!

  28. Yuki says:

    My chest is 3 shades darker than my face… My inner wrist actually matches my face.

  29. Elle says:

    I wear a lot of v-necks too and this works out perfectly for me. Thanks Sam!

  30. Ithfifi says:

    Great advice! I am trained in makeup and have witnessed professionals and everyday makeup wearers do this differently but I am ALWAYS checking to make sure it matches whereever I can, the more places it matches, the better. The neck/chest is most important to me. NOTHING worse then seeing someone with a straight orange/to pale transistion on their neck, it looks like a painted mask! ?:(

  31. LRW says:

    I always match the skin under my chin on my throat too…my chest is actually very pink compared to my face. I’m going to try it though and see what happens,thanks Sam!

    • Sam says:

      Great! Lemme know how it works out. And honestly, the first couple of times you try it, it’s gonna look really weird, because you’re so unused to it. Try it two or three times before giving up.

  32. Agnes says:

    thanks for the tip sam! ive definitely never thought about it that way, but now that you say it, it sounds like something i shouldve done long time ago! i have a couple foundations in the back of my makeup drawer that were either too light or dark, and that mustve been because i matched it to the wrong area! 🙁 so thank you! will try this next time i go buy foundation 😀

    on another note… i just cant help picturing myself getting help from a SA to match a foundation for me and saying to her “can you match it to my chest?” hahah oh the awkwardness.. 😀

    • Sam says:

      This has happened to me soooo often… So many foundations meant for me that just ended up in my set kit. And a sales associate’s job is help you, not to judge. Maybe you can actually teach *them* a thing or two… 😉

  33. melvel says:

    I test foundation on the back of my hand. I feel my skintone there best approximates the skintone in my face.

    My problem is, my face is darker than the rest of me (neck, chest). So I am always at a dilemma…do I pick a foundation shade to match my face, or do I pick one to match my neck so it’s all even?
    melvel recently posted … Spotted- Cath Kidston at S&ampR

    • Sam says:

      Well, I advise not matching to your neck in any case… But the point of foundation is not to match the skin on your face, but to make you face look in tone with the rest of your body. For example, my face has a lot of pink in it, while the rest of my body has yellow-undertones. So if I were to match to anywhere on my face, I’d definitely pick a pink foundation (which I’ve done before), and it looks soooooo wrong. So, pick one to match the rest of your exposed skin. It’s what will look most natural for you. 🙂

  34. Audrey says:

    I do the same thing, Sam! Especially with bridal parties b/c you know their chest will be exposed and the last thing you want is a bunch of “floating heads” in pics 😉

    In fact, if they show up in button downs, I often ask if they can open up their shirt a bit at top so I can get a good view of their chest when I match their foundations. I feel a little pervy sometimes though (LOL) but you gotta do it if you want it to look right! 😉

  35. jillane says:

    I think your advice is ok one thing to add for those who are skeptical when your applying your foundation you should be blending down past your jaw line anyway to stop that horrid line and disguise the fact your neck may be lighter, this will stop the dark face pale neck look and ultimately blend with your décolletage.

    • Sam says:

      Completely right, thank you! I always blend the foundation down underneath the jaw, then take whatever product is left on the brush after completing application and buff it down a bit from where i ended blending to make a smooth transition into the neck color, almost like a gradient. Guess I should have added that…

  36. jillane says:

    Thanks Sam nice to know us Scottish Beauty Therapists are on the money… even though were freezing in deep snow right now!

  37. Shari says:

    I have a very difficult complexion to match (blotchiness, redness, sun-spots, etc.). thank God for the Almay “Smart Shade” foundations…they really do work 🙂

  38. Andreea says:

    Thank you! Awesome advcie and now I will go and check. I have three foundations and they just do nto match me because when they are nice in my face they seem to pink or too dark when I look in the mirror.
    My chest is a lot birghter then my face though. Guess match does not mean to make it as “white” as my chest but it should work neatly together. let’s see!

  39. Renee says:

    I never tried the chest before….usually the jaw line works for me, but I’ll give it a try!

  40. Lauren says:

    Sam, if my chest is one/two shades darker should I still match to my chest?

  41. Mckenzie says:

    Will foundation clog my pores and look cakes and gross? will it cover up acne marks?

  42. Beka says:

    question.. so I have acne, and I want to cover it up with out looking like I have a ton of make up on.. but then when I wear makeup all the time it gives me even more acne and I have to use even more cover up.. vicious cycle 😛 any suggestions?

  43. aria says:

    im asian,so i think i have yellow/warm undertone.my face is way much darker than my body,it’s like three times darker.so what should i do?match the foundation color to my body or choose the shade that same with my face?neeed help.thankyouuuuuuuuuuu

    • Maria says:

      My face is also WAY darker than my chest. I am new to foundation, and I have a terrible time finding the right shade. If I match it to my chest, how do I keep from looking like a corpse? Is it something that I am just going to have to get used to? I read that using bronzer will “fix” the problem, but doesn’t that defeat the purpose of matching the shade to my chest?

  44. Hillary says:

    Thank you! My neck is at least a shade/shade-and-a-half darker than my face, yet my face and chest match the rest of my body. I’ve stopped going to counters because they insist on matching my face to my neck, which ends up making me look orange (I’m olive/ lt. brown with yellow undertones). I went to my prom with orange skin and I refuse to have that happen again.

  45. Maria says:

    My face (MAC NC 40) is also WAY darker than my chest, I’m guessing three to five shades darker. I am new to foundation, and I have a terrible time finding the right shade. If I match it to my chest, how do I keep from looking like a corpse? Is it something that I am just going to have to get used to? I read that using bronzer will “fix” the problem, but doesn’t that defeat the purpose of matching the shade to my chest?

  46. Nikkie says:

    I matched my makeup to my chest but it still looks off because my chest has a lot more red then my face(which has a yellow tone) should I dust some green powder on my chest?

  47. amy says:

    I have forever had a problem matching my skin tone, I can’t seem to do it on my own, and I’ve scheduled appts with makeup artists that tour their department store counters from time to time, and no luck. I’ve tried mixing colors and that’s a no, too. I would say that I have an olive undertone but maybe I’m wrong. I am definitely not pink so I always try neutral but end up pink or orange looking skin. I’ve heard that to figure out if you’re warm, cool, or neutral, you can look at the color of your veins on your wrist. I am terrible with colors and can’t tell if they look more blue or more green, etc.
    Anyone know of any ways to match “tough to match” skin? I’ve even tried the true match and smart shade types in hopes they’d blend.
    I wish I could show someone a photo in natural sunlight and see if someone can help me with this- I don’t get blush or lipstick colors right, either!
    Sorry I seem like a makeup nightmare, but if anyone has any feedback I would appreciate it so much!

  48. Asher says:

    I know it does sound funny to match foundation for the face to the inside of the wrist or arm but honestly that is the part of my body that matches my face lol. I’m outside alot and I almost never wear long sleeves but any other part of my body that I can see like cleavage or arms ect… and if I hold my arm so my wrist is faceing twords the mirror when I’m looking at my face it’s an almost perfect match. I think it depends on your skin tone and how often light is hitting those parts of your skin and producing melanin. My chest might work too thought, I think it is a shad or two darker though. This was very helpful I think because in certain light I have like a tan line (or shading on my face whateber way you take it.) on my neck in the middle of my neck at that haha lucky me… and the person at the make up counter matched it to that darker part of my neck (my neck is a bit darker than my face..)It looked right but it didn’t match my lower part of my neck and I was like uhh.. so I went home and I looked at it some more and was like okay this is the right color (because I had better lighting..and that line wasn’t there)Soooo yup =3

  49. Asia says:

    47 year woman likes (loves) your suggestion. I know that my neck & chest is lighter than my face but I always figured that the light tones do appear on my face. So I did match my chest for the concealer to use under my eyes and the color was perfect. it even worked for blemish on my leg. I will get shades for when im lightest in the winter and when Im darkest in the summer.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

CommentLuv badge